Tuesday, September 06, 2005

What went wrong?

Fellow blogger Paul accuses me of "having it in for" GWB. Maybe I do, but what I really have more of a thing for is truth.

If you do too, dear reader, I urge you to go get yourself a copy of today's Wall Street Journal. (Or go online, but you have to subscribe.)

This ordinarily conservative, Republican-leaning paper devotes two whole columns of its front page and much more space inside to asking what went wrong, and Dubya and his minions (especially the ones in Homeland Security and FEMA) don't come off looking so good -- even in this august journal that almost always manages to make them look, if not good, then at least defensible.

Here's just the front-page sidebar (which ran above the fold, by the way):



So if you don't want to read what I say, don't. Go read The Wall Street Journal instead.

7 Comments:

At September 6, 2005 at 3:14:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Paul said...

I think that you do have it in for George Bush, but I want the truth just as you do whomever is painted by its brush.There have been some obvious failures, it seems to me, in New Orleans, but how about holding any of the people who are accountable accountable - not just GWB? We shouldn't forget those folks in Mississippi and Alabama either.

 
At September 6, 2005 at 3:43:00 PM EDT, Blogger fausto said...

No, we shouldn't; there's plenty of woe and plenty of missteps to be found everywhere. But only the Federal government has the resources to respond effectively to a disaster of this magnitude, so the Feds must also take the lion's share of the responsibility for failure.

What bothers me about New Orleans in particular, as opposed to Mississippi and Alabama, is that only there did FEMA's mismanagement of the situation cost a significant number of extra lives due to drowning and withholding of food, water and medicine. And when they were caught, they lied about it:

"We didn't anticipate that it could be this bad." Yes, in fact, public records show that you did. You even had a name for the scenario -- "Hurricane Pam". And the National Hurricane Center gave you ample warning days before the storm came ashore. (But if you didn't, that would beg the question, why not?)

"Help is on the way." No, it wasn't; it was withheld for two or three critical days, even while all the networks (even Fox!) were screaming about the need. On Tuesday, while the city was flooding, Bush was in Southern California publicly comparing himself to FDR and mugging for the cameras with a guitar. Help only began to arrive in strength on Friday, once Karl Rove realized that Bush's political neck was at risk. And, to Bush's embarrassment, the very effectiveness of it when it did finally arrive merely underscored how much more could have been accomplished if it had been sent sooner.

New Orleans is destined to go down in history as GWB's Hooverville.

 
At September 6, 2005 at 9:23:00 PM EDT, Anonymous Paul said...

I think the Mayor of New Orleans and the Governor (a Democrat) are culpable too to a degree. One point-a beauracracy goes at it's own pace regardless of who ultimately commands it . I know this, because I worked for a city and a mayor for years. Bush could give all of the orders he in the world, but the beauracracy sees that they are carried out. They do so at their pace be it fast or slow. Several previous administrations have done things to impact New orleans - that seems to be "forgotten" in the frenzy to get GWB. It doesn't help that New Orleans and Louisiana have a reputatuion for corruption that is well documented and lengthy. It might behoove some impartial person to check the books and see if allocated federal funds got to where they were supposed to be going.

 
At September 6, 2005 at 10:26:00 PM EDT, Blogger fausto said...

Yup, there's lots of culpability to spread around, no doubt about that.

But of all those who potentially share culpability, only Bush deliberately shortchanged the Army Corps' in-process levee repair program year after year so that scheduled repairs and improvements couldn't be completed; only Bush sent a third of the Louisiana National Guard's manpower and half its equipment out of the region and into combat on a far-off continent during hurricane season, thus depriving the Governor of much of her own disaster-response capability; only Bush systematically eviscerated FEMA's budget, staff and mission year after year; only Bush possessed the massive resources necessary to supply and evacuate the city once the dikes broke; only Bush neglected the crisis and went to California to publicly compare himself to FDR the day it happened; only Bush waited an inexplicable five days to throw whatever resources remained available into the fray; only Bush's agencies plainly lied to excuse their own failures; and only Bush's mother spoke contemptuously about the victims after the fact.

No corresponding failure at the state or local level, however real, excuses or minimizes the Bush Administration's far greater lapses. What's more, whereas local failures were largely the consequence of ineptitude, Bush's were largely the consequence of consistent, intentional policy decisions that had been carefully considered and implemented over a period of years and well in advance.

And at the federal level, as opposed to the state and local levels, even the incompetence was deliberate. Bush placed party hacks and bozos rather than seasoned professionals in FEMA, but not in Defense or State or Justice, for a reason.

 
At September 6, 2005 at 10:37:00 PM EDT, Blogger PeaceBang said...

I can't get over this "We didn't think it could get this bad" stuff. What part of this transmission from the National Weather Service can't these geniuses read:

URGENT - WEATHER MESSAGE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE NEW ORLEANS LA 1011 AM CDT SUN AUG 28 2005 ...DEVASTATING DAMAGE EXPECTED... HURRICANE KATRINA...A MOST POWERFUL HURRICANE WITH UNPRECEDENTED STRENGTH...RIVALING THE INTENSITY OF HURRICANE CAMILLE OF 1969. MOST OF THE AREA WILL BE UNINHABITABLE FOR WEEKS...PERHAPS LONGER. AT LEAST HALF OF WELL CONSTRUCTED HOMES WILL HAVE ROOF AND WALL FAILURE. ALL GABLED ROOFS WILL FAIL...ALL WOOD FRAMED LOW RISING APARTMENT BUILDINGS WILL BE DESTROYED...ALL WINDOWS WILL BE BLOWN OUT. THE VAST MAJORITY...OF TREES WILL BE SNAPPED OR UPROOTED. ONLY THE HEARTIEST WILL REMAIN STANDING...BUT BE TOTALLY DEFOLIATED. POWER OUTAGES WILL LAST FOR WEEKS...AS MOST POWER POLES WILL BE DOWN AND TRANSFORMERS DESTROYED. WATER SHORTAGES WILL MAKE HUMAN SUFFERING INCREDIBLE BY MODERN STANDARDS.

 
At September 7, 2005 at 12:09:00 AM EDT, Blogger Pat said...

Your assumption that the Wall Street Journal is very supportive of President Bush is wrong. The editorial page is, undeniably. But the news pages are quite a bit more liberal as anybody who's read it for awhile knows.

As a conservative I personally agree with all the bullet points except the second one; that clearly makes no sense and does not comport with reality. Because of the Posse Comitatus act, the military cannot be used to restore order, but they did a lot of support work. There is no evidence that there were nearby assets that didn't act, and the idea that their commanders would be reluctant to use them because they were "stretched thin" is absurd. The Coast Guard saved thousands of lives; they aren't getting enough credit.

The absorption of FEMA into HS may have been a mistake; then again if the next major event is terrorism we may be glad it was. Despite the criticism this time around they received generally good marks last year during the Florida hurricanes.

 
At September 7, 2005 at 6:36:00 AM EDT, Blogger fausto said...

Read the whole article, Pat, and you'll see what they are talking about when they say commanders were reluctant to make nearby troops available. It wasn't a Posse Comitatus issue; it was that the troops are scheduled to deploy in Afghanistan in a few months and commanders didn't want to interrupt their training. Foreign deployment took precedence over domestic relief.

I've been a regular daily subscriber to the WSJ for 20 years. I don't think their news reporting (as opposed to their editorial page) is liberal; it's thorough and objective. However, their reporting usually focuses pretty narrowly on business and economic topics, which is why I called it a "normally conservative, Republican-leaning paper". I'd be shocked if its readership weren't far more Republican than the general population.

 

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